Need suggestions for a programming computer (Computer Engineering)

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by WolfCrow, Aug 5, 2019.

  1. WolfCrow

    WolfCrow Newbie

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    Hey! So, first off, I want to say that I am already at my third year of the career and I have a somewhat good desktop (i5-7400, GTX1050, 8GB RAM... Not that good but hey, it runs the games I play smoothly). It's been great for university but I inevitable had come to the point that I need a laptop.

    I don't want anything too fancy, I already have my desktop, but I need it to run some stuff, like compilers, smoothly enough. This semester, for example, I'm gonna be using Oracle to learn data bases. I need to take it to school so I need it to be light (I don't mind a mini-laptop, as long as it does the job). However, I don't want something to throw out to the trash in two years. And I don't want to spend too much on it, at much roughly $500 (also I'm in Mexico), but ideally like $300 if that's possible.

    I know, I want too much and it's probably going to cost me more than I want but maybe someone here has any suggestion? Even if it's just like a range of processors or what to avoid, stuff like that. Anyway. Thank you in advance.

    Form:

    General Questions

    1) What is your budget? $200-$500. Ideally around $300.

    2) What size notebook would you prefer?
    a. Ultraportable; 10" - 12" screen
    c. Thin and Light; 13" - 14" screen
    Any of those would be fine as long as it's not much heavier than 5 pounds (around 2kg).
    3) Which country will you buying this notebook? Mexico.

    4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?
    As long as it does what I need to do, it's fine.
    5) Would you consider laptops that are refurbished/redistributed? Yes.

    6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook? Programming, nothing too heavy I think? Also data bases and university stuff. I'm studying Computer Engineering, not going into graphic stuff.

    7) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places, leaving it on your desk or both? I'll be taking it to school, almost in a daily basis.

    8) Will you be playing games on your notebook? (If so, please state which games or types of games?) No, already have my desktop for that.

    9) How many hours of battery life do you need? At least 6+ hours, I guess.

    10) Would you prefer to see the notebooks you're considering before purchasing it or buying a notebook on-line without seeing it is OK? Online it's okay.

    11) What OS do you prefer? Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Chrome OS, etc. Windows, but I'll probably install Linux alongside it like I did with my desktop.

    Screen Specifics

    12) What screen resolution(s) would you prefer? (See further below for explanations.) At least HD, I guess.

    13) Do you want a glossy/reflective screen or a matte/non-glossy screen? (See further below for explanations.) Matte preferably, but anything is okay.

    Build Quality and Design

    14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you? Not that much, as long as it isn't a look-at-me colour. Black, grey, white is okay.

    Notebook Components

    15) How much hard drive space do you need? I'm thinking at least 500GB. No real need for SSD.

    Timing, Warranty and Longevity


    16) When are you buying this laptop? As soon as possible.

    17) How long do you expect to use this laptop? At least a couple of years until I finish my career. Hopefully I'll buy a better one afterwards.

    18) How long could you afford to do without your laptop if it were to fail? As long as needed, probably. I have two more, but one is a heavy, old and slow laptop and the other is a not-that-old and slowish mini-laptop but its battery is dead so it needs to be plugged all the time. Also my desktop.

    19) Would you be willing to pay significantly extra for on-site warranty, or would it be acceptable to you to have to ship the laptop to the vendor for repair with perhaps a week or more outage? It would be okay to ship it back.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
  2. ZaZ

    ZaZ Super Model Super Moderator

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    I've no idea what's available in Mexico, but when you're on a limited budget, you typically get the bang for your buck going used. Kind of like buying a car, the first owner takes the biggest deprecation hit. However, going used is a more risky proposition as there's often no warranty, so if a problem arises it'll be more of a hassle to fix and likely cost money, but that's the trade-off one must make to get the best value.

    I don't know what engineering or learning databases entails, so you if you could define that a little more concretely, like if you need a quad core or a dual core will do, that help us define what it is you need. Good luck and welcome to NBR.
     
  3. WolfCrow

    WolfCrow Newbie

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    Thanks for the welcome!

    Yeah, I actually looked for refurbished and/or used but didn't find that much stuff. I did found some old Dell (I think?) with second generation i7 and such quite cheap but I didn't go for it because I don't know how compatible old computers are with new software and they were quite heavy, and I'm looking for something light.

    I'm not quite sure to be honest, hahaha. As ironic as it may seem, I'm not quite sure how demanding compilers, IDEs, SDKs and such are. My only experiences come from trying to work in my desktop which doesn't have any problem but it was quite aimed at gaming from the beginning, my oldest laptop which takes its time even to open a browser with no other thing running and my not-that-old mini-laptop which is still slow too and struggled with the little I tried on it.

    However, based on what I've found online and my own calculations of what I'm going to be doing, probably a dual core would suffice and at least 4GB of RAM. I plan on specialising on AI but again I don't know how demanding that would be (I don't think that much, not like gaming at least). For now, I think I found something: the Asus VivoBook F510Q, with A12-9720P, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD (I'd prefer more, even if HDD, but I think 128GB are quite decent) and Radeon R7. I've found good things online and seems like a good choice? I also found a F510QA that, according to some sites, had 8GB RAM but I'm not sure, and it was around $75-$100 more I think. Also Asus VivoBook F510UA which is supposed to be better but didn't find many good things about it and it was around $250 more.

    Anyway. Thanks again! I'd still appreciate some input about the F510Q if anyone knows anything and even more suggestions.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
  4. rlk

    rlk Notebook Evangelist

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    A few things to think about:

    1) 4GB RAM won't get you very far these days, particularly if "running alongside" means running in a virtual machine, vs. dual booting (dual booting is very, very inconvenient). Also, Oracle really like having oodles of RAM, for the SGA among other things. Even though you're not going to be running a production database, you still don't want to starve it. I wouldn't be comfortable with less than 16TB of RAM.

    2) Storage, again, since you want to run 2 OS's, you need more. If you want to dual boot you're better off with two M.2 drives, rather than trying to partition one, but I'd say you probably want at least 512GB total.

    3) The A12-9720P is rather slow by contemporary standards. It's considerably slower than much older processors like the i7-2670QM much less anything from Skylake on. Judging by PassMark numbers, it's roughly equivalent to the i7-920XM -- which was a very fast mobile processor in 2010. I'd go for something a little beefier; you're not going to be doing really heavy duty work on it probably, but I think you'll find it a bit sluggish.

    4) Size -- very small screens are going to be hard to read much code on, and that small of a keyboard might not be much fun to type on.

    I know this is going to be bigger and heavier than you'd ideally want, but I think something like a used Dell Precision M4800 (15" workstation-type laptop) would better fit your needs; you can put plenty of RAM and multiple drives in it, and it probably has a good keyboard. With something like an i7-4800MQ, the CPU would be about 2x the speed. It weighs around 5 lb or thereabouts, I believe. They're plentiful on eBay and it's easy to find parts if you need them.

    Come to think of it, a Dell Precision M3800 might actually be ideal (used, obviously). It's 15" with choice of 1920x1200 or 3200x1800 display, weighs about 4 lb, takes up to 16GB RAM, and has 2 storage slots (1 mini-card -- you can get at least 512GB in that form factor -- and 1 2.5"), and you can get a 91Wh battery which probably has pretty good life. It's several generations old, but they're still plentiful and they're excellent machines.
     
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